1. Brooklyn Public Library–Central Library
Grand Army Plaza at Eastern Pkwy.; 718-230-2100
Brooklyn’s central library will soon add a new plaza and a 200-seat auditorium as part of an almost-completed $16.5 million renovation. The children’s reading room is often packed, and parents and nannies show up at 9 a.m. to get tickets to afternoon story time. Telecommuters adore the international reading room—not just for the 1.5 million books in a riot of languages, but also for the free Wi-Fi and plentiful Aeron chairs.
2. Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket
Grand Army Plaza, Prospect Park entrance, every Saturday
Trumansburg Trees rushes fresh-cut evergreens down from Ithaca. But before you pick out a tree, pick out your halibut at the stocked fish market— most of the fish is gone by noon.
3. The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch at Grand Army Plaza
General Sherman laid the cornerstone of our own little Arc de Triomphe. Now there are performances below the arch (where the acoustics aren’t bad) and occasionally within the arch itself, where actors recently staged a Halloween production of F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu.
671 Vanderbilt Ave., at Park Pl. 718-857-7211
Owners Colin and Latisha Daring’s Vanderbilt Avenue boutique specializes in tough urban flair with a kick, from small designers (Filippa K, Triko, True Religion), celebs (Gwen Stefani), and their new, ruffled-and-sexy Pieces line.
646 Vanderbilt Ave., nr. Park Pl. 718-623-7470
Telecommuting freelancers are already clogging up this stylish little bakery, which opened in September. Joyce Quitasol serves Gorilla coffee, homemade granola ($4), tasty lemon tarts ($4), and light vanilla madeleines ($1), but the Bourbon pecan cookies (75 cents) are especially addictive.
639 Vanderbilt Ave., nr. Prospect Pl.; 718-622-1255
Until Prospect Heights gets a Whole Foods, this tiny gourmet grocer bridges the gap between Key Foods and the finer things, with hard-to-find spices, fresh ravioli, and excellent cheeses. If you miss the Greenmarket, get your baguettes here.
7. Fabrica LLC
619 Vanderbilt Ave., nr. St. Marks Ave.; 718-398-3831
In addition to full-service interior design and upholstery, designer Demi Adeniran presides over a selective and surprisingly affordable collection of restored mid-century finds, handblown glassware, and durable children’s toys.
8. Bob Law’s Seafood Café
637 Vanderbilt Ave., nr. St. Marks Ave.; 718-789-4060
Civil-rights activist and talk-radio vet Bob Law (“Night Talk With Bob Law”) serves up giant orders of southern-style shrimp, whiting, and catfish (fried, blackened, or broiled), with ample sides of mac-and-cheese, greens, and biscuits. The bargain meal (catfish, shrimp, bread, and two large sides for just $29.99) easily feeds four.